EPIcenter is delighted to highlight Switched Source as its #FrontandEPIcenter🌟feature for the month of July. Switched Source’s technology makes it possible to manage the flow of electricity on the electric grid, acting like an internet router, but for power. This solution makes the distribution grid more reliable and efficient. After testing the technology in a variety of lab environments, Switched Source recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to deploy it with a number of electric utilities across the U.S.
Switched Source has been a client of the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator (EEIA) for about three years. Co-Founder Charles (Charlie) Murray appreciates the way the EEIA assists startup companies at any phase of development. He has been impressed with the EPIcenter team’s depth of knowledge, level of service, the extra support provided during the pandemic and the visibility it can offer through its partners.
“What differentiates EPIcenter from other organizations is the individualized way the team helps you tackle a problem. The EPIcenter team leans in on a pressing issue rather than just giving a homework assignment. Receiving that personalized support is so critical,” Murray said.
If you are an energy startup interested in learning more about our programs, click here.
For the month of May, EPIcenter is excited to feature Associate Member Allosense. Allosense makes “always connected” tracking devices that attach to physical assets. These asset trackers also generate data that provides insight into operational waste across a variety of industries. Founder and CEO Roman Sandoval has been involved in “test and management” services for 12 years and is a three-time startup founder. Sandoval combined his entrepreneurial know-how with his desire to apply technology to real-world logistics and analytics to start Allosense in late 2019. Allosense gained some early traction with the Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force’s AFWERX program.
In 2020, the Allosense team began exploring the energy industry as a potential market and joined the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator (EEIA) as an Associate Member. This program is helping the team validate the market potential and offers key networking opportunities. With the help of EPIcenter’s coaching and feedback, Allosense won second place at Techbloc’s 2020 Tech Fuel Startup Pitch Competition.
“Startups are very risky in nature. Do everything you can to de-risk the company as you further engage with the energy or government sectors. This is where EPIcenter can help scale the business by providing additional mentorship and business planning,” Sandoval said.
Three main areas of the Associate Membership program have been impactful to Sandoval; the one-on-one coaching sessions, the pitch deck reviews, and networking with other companies in EEIA programs. To learn more about the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator and the Associate Membership program, click here.
Anna Morton, the very first client of the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator (EEIA), is this month’s #FrontandEPIcenter🌟feature. Morton, an entrepreneur engineer, developed Talking Walls, an accountability tool for energy efficiency measures in buildings. During a Startup Weekend hosted by Geekdom in 2016, where she won second place, she was introduced to a young organization called EPIcenter and was encouraged to connect with CEO Kimberly Britton. “Where and when do I apply?”, was Morton’s enthusiastic request to Britton over coffee one morning. The EEIA was still on the drawing board at the time and Britton, encouraged by her excitement, assured Morton she would be the first to know.
In the meantime, Britton connected Morton with Joey Oliver, veteran startup entrepreneur and mentor, who coached Morton to readiness for CPS Energy’s Customer Centric (C3) pitch competition in 2017. Oliver focused their efforts on the business and financial components of her idea and Talking Walls tied for first place. Morton reflected, “It was a milestone that provided the validation that my idea could be viable.”
Since those early days, the EEIA has provided strategic guidance and support to Morton as she developed the Talking Walls tool through her own company Morton Gestalt. Morton’s team expanded with the hire of a then recent graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio Matthew Coleman and eventually data analyst Joe Rivera. Morton graduated EPIcenter’s pre-incubation program in 2018 and then joined the EPIcenter incubator program in 2019. Through the EEIA programs, Morton worked with EPIcenter business coaches and mentors, led by EEIA Chief Andi Littlejohn, developing her technology while also growing and maturing as a leader and business owner.
Morton said, “So much of growing professionally is about taking risks and putting yourself out there. There is a lot of value in showing up and it is helpful to know you have support when you do that. With the direction of our coaches and mentors, we progressed as a company in ways I would have never thought of on my own. We were more polished and focused because of that outside input.”
In late 2020, Morton was approached by an engineering firm, dbHMS out of Chicago, which expressed interest in hiring her and her team to expand its operation in its research-driven design support studio, Databased + into Texas. The firm also saw possibilities for applications for the Talking Walls technology. Morton views this as an opportunity to both advance her professional growth using many of the business skills that she learned through EPIcenter, as well leverage additional resources to continue the development of Talking Walls. Morton and her team officially joined Databased + in January 2021 and she is motivated to build great buildings in San Antonio. Morton looks forward to bringing the expertise and skillset of Databased + to her community.
“My goal has always been about being in San Antonio and doing good work here, especially around sustainability in the building environment. I am excited for the opportunity to take the scripts, skills, and relationships that we built at Talking Walls and Morton Gestalt and supercharge them.”
The EPIcenter team is honored to be a part of Anna Morton’s journey thus far and we cannot wait to see the continued growth of her team and technology as the work to refine the vision continues. Learn more about EEIA programs here.
EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator client Leaptran is this month’s #FrontandEPIcenter🌟feature! Jeff Xu, President and CEO, has been familiar with the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator(EEIA) since its inception in 2017 and notes that it is a great resource for energy startups. Edward Hooks, Chief Operating Officer, mentioned that EPIcenter not only expands their professional network, but also provides powerful business coaching to help them achieve and stay true to their company goals. Both Jeff and Edward enjoy how the program points them in the right direction and challenges their assumptions.
Leaptran originated from The University of Texas at San Antonio as a project focused on batteries. The technology from that project evolved, allowing Jeff and Edward to realize how expansive the technology could be not only at the building level but also at the utility level. In recognition of a commercial opportunity they licensed the technology and founded Leaptran, which offers a suite of artificial intelligence-based software solutions that help utilities and building owners manage buildings, large microgrids, and renewable power sources.
Edward said, “It’s about the data -- to give people the opportunity to run their buildings, their homes, and the grid in a more efficient manner. It is a blessing to have someone [like EPIcenter] in our corner to help us navigate these waters.”
Find out more information about our EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator programs here.
EPIcenter is excited to expand its international client base with the addition of Erco DER Services, Inc. -- this month’s #FrontandEPIcenter🌟 feature! Erco Energía is a successful startup headquartered in Colombia and focuses on the implementation and management of distributed energy resources (DER), working with utility-scale systems and photovoltaic solar roofs, electric vehicle infrastructure and energy storage systems. Erco Energía is expanding its operations to enter the U.S. and Texas markets. It has formed a company called Erco DER Services, Inc. that will be headquartered here in our hometown of San Antonio, Texas.
Erco DER Services, Inc. joined the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator this fall. Chief Operating Officer Juan Camilo said, “We want to work with EPIcenter to conduct a full assessment of Erco Energía and create market entry strategies for San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Houston.” He continued to say, “We believe we can contribute to the growth of SanAntonio with the creation of energy-related job opportunities.”
To learn more about Erco DER Services, Inc. and the services it provides, please read our press release here. Click here if you are interested in learning more about our programs.
EPIcenter has another great startup to feature in this edition of #FrontandEPIcenter🌟, Terra Solar! Terra Solar aims to increase the accessibility of solar energy through its Solar Canopy, which providesoff-grid power and can be assembled by a non-professional without an electrician.
Terra Solar and its founder, Dr. Jennie Yoshimoto, have been in the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator since June 2019. She has been “impressed with EPIcenter’s commitment to their clients’success. They help startups succeed by investing heavily in the people within each startup.”
Along with the progress Terra Solar has made in the EEIA, Terra Solar has also recently been recognized in multiple pitch competitions. It was selected to move on as a semi-finalist in the Department of Energy’s American-Made Solar Prize, which came with $50,000 for further development of a prototype, and was featured in an article by Distributed Energy. Terra Solar was also selected as one of three finalists in the Texas State New Ventures competition and was awarded $20,000 in non-dilutive funding and access to the Texas State STAR Park. EPIcenter could not be more proud to have Terra Solar as a client.
“Our EEIA coaches and mentors have been able to anticipate our needs and provide us with the resources for each next step in our development,” Dr. Yoshimoto said when asked how EPIcenter’s program has helped them grow their business.
To learn more about the EEIA and to apply visit the Incubator page.
EPIcenter is proud to be working with the Pythias team out of the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) and to feature them on #FrontandEPIcenter🌟! Pythias is a climate risk analytics company with the mission to reduce the physical climate risk to our energy infrastructure through a systems-based decision optimization software solution.
Because their software is focused on the energy sector, the Pythias team felt it would be best to work with an incubator program with expertise in the industry. As one of the few energy-specific programs in the country, the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator (EEIA) was a clear choice.
Pythias entered the EEIA in the pre-incubation program and worked to validate the business value of their innovation and create a pitch deck. They have now graduated from the pre-incubation program and are moving into the incubation program, where EPIcenter will continue providing support as they launch their business. One of the most helpful exercises Pythias has gone through was their first practice pitch, where the mentors, coaches and subject matter experts EPIcenter brought together gave constructive feedback about their idea and its business value.
Thinking about applying for the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator? The Pythias team says, “definitely go for it! EPIcenter has a great set of staff, mentors and coaches. We would not be as developed as we are now without their support.”
To learn more about the EEIA and to apply visit the Incubator page.
Our startup client, EnVault, is this month’s #FrontandEPIcenter🌟 feature! EnVault is creating a power-pack that can replace traditional gas-powered generators to make portable power cleaner and more convenient. Looking to replace the larger generators used for utility vehicles, RVs and even food trucks, EnVault is focused on making not only a green product, but one that also reduces consumers’ cost.
While there are many incubators and accelerators to choose from, EnVault chose the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator (EEIA) because it focuses on modern-day, energy-based solutions. Of the decision EnVault said, “we chose to go with who we felt would not only instruct us in which direction to go, but actually guide us.”
To startups thinking about applying to the EEIA EnVault proposes,“Know that if you’re joining EPIcenter you are joining a group that wants to build you and your venture up. So, try to relax a bit and bring what you got. But, bring it with a passion.”
EPIcenter is very proud that EnVault, a recent graduate of EPIcenter’s Pre-incubation program, won the Geekdom Community Fund competition on December 13! After being chosen as a finalist, they competed against five other startups for the $25,000 prize. EPIcenter is excited to continue to work with EnVault as they enter EPIcenter’s Incubation program.
Thinking about applying for the EEIA? Visit the incubator page for more information and apply today!
This month’s #FrontandEPIcenter🌟 features EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator startup client, Go Smart Solar, founded by Jason Pittman and Robert Miggins! Go Smart Solar aims to make solar energy as accessible as possible by developing innovative programs to lower the price and improve the user experience. Their newly launched program, Big Sun Community Solar, in conjunction with CPS Energy, allows residents to purchase solar panels on top of solar carports across the city and receive credit on their bill based on the energy produced by the panels.
“If you’re in the energy space, the EEIA has unparalleled insight into the industry and market through their members and global advisors,” Go Smart Solar said to startups considering applying for the EEIA.
The next application deadline for the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator is September 8. Visit the incubator page for more information and to apply.
EPIcenter is pleased to feature Simon Castillo, Business and Economic Development Manager of CPS Energy, as this month's #FrontandEPIcenter🌟. Castillo has been engaged with the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator(EEIA) mentor program for over three years now and was one its first. Castillo hopes not to provide all of the answers to the startups with whom he works, but to add value by sharing his experiences and expertise in finance, marketing, and buisness development.
“Our role is to ask questions to get the startups thinking critically. We do not know all of the answers, but we try to guide them in their journey,” Castillo said.
Castillo is also a mentor to younger CPS Energy team members. He shared that mentoring startups with the EEIA is different than mentoring members of his company because of the innovative ideas the entrepreneurs are trying to bring to market. Castillo mentioned that he shares the entrepreneurial spirit that many of the startups and these companies often leaves him awestruck by their ability to pursue their ideas.
Castillo wonders how many talented people in the corporate world may be lost because of a lack of guidance. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have the right mentors to hold me accountable for my own development. It’s extremely gratifying to know I can be an influence on emerging entrepreneurs,” Castillo said.
To connect with knowledgeable mentors like Simon Castillo and to learn more about our EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator mentor program click here.
For the month of April EPIcenter is excited to bring mentor and subject matter expert Rashmi Sarlashkar to #FrontandEPIcenter🌟. Sarlashkar’s expertise is in the engineering industry, specifically in software design and development of real-time embedded systems. She has managed projects in verticals such as biomedical instrumentation, industrial automation, and the Internet of Things. Sarlashkar was first introduced to EPIcenter by Joey Oliver, an EPIcenter Business Coach, who knew her from San Antonio-based WellAware. Oliver saw Sarlashkar’s zest for energy innovation and introduced her to the Chief of the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator, Andi Littlejohn.
“Even though EPIcenter serves clients nationally and globally, I think it is so important to have an incubator company focused on energy innovation here in San Antonio,” Sarlashkar said. She continued by saying, “Energy innovation is close to my heart and I wanted to get involved with a program where I could share my wisdom from working in the startup world.”
Sarlashkar considers mentorship programs valuable to startup organizations at any stage of development. They provide entrepreneurs different perspectives and experiences that they can learn from in order to adapt and grow their companies. She also appreciates the depth of energy industry knowledge and experience that EPIcenter and its network of mentors bring to the table. You can find out more information about EPIcenter’s startup and mentor programs here.
For this month’s #FrontandEPIcenter feature🌟 , EPIcenter is pleased to spotlight mentor Eugene “Gene” Brotherman. Gene is a R&D Manager for Itron and has a background in software development and testing. Prior to Itron, Gene worked for the U. S. Air Force where he specialized in assessing vulnerabilities within security systems. Gene’s experiences and expertise have been invaluable to the startups in the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator (EEIA).
Gene is also mentoring in EPIcenter’s SA Smart Challenge Implementation Training. This program works with the Challenge’s K-12 winning teams to advance their innovative ideas from ideation to implementation.
Gene said, “The SA Smart Challenge Implementation Training hits home for me because my dad was a teacher for over 20 years.” He noted that participating students are energetic and motivated to make their communities and environment better through their innovative ideas.
Click HERE to learn more about how you can make a difference through EPIcenter’s mentor program.
#FrontandEPIcenter🌟 is back to feature another fabulous mentor, David Jones! David is an attorney whose firm represents startups, entrepreneurs, and emerging companies in areas such as:
brand protection, company formation, startup and growth strategies, investing and fundraising, copyright and trademarks, business and legal agreements, IP protection, privacy policies and more. His expertise has benefitted multiple clients in the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator such as Terra Solar, and EnVault.
Jones notes that “People who start their own business have a different mindset. They are super passionate and their business is personal to them because they are putting everything they have into their organization...the work is invigorating and my greatest joy comes from seeing the people I work with become successful.”
We could not do what we do without the support and passion of mentors like David Jones! Thank you for all you do, David. To learn more about the EPIcenter mentor program visit the Incubator page.
#FrontandEPIcenter🌟 is back with a mentor spotlight this month on Nils Frenkel! Nils is a Director with Navigant Consulting’s Energy practice. He has experience working with software-as-a-service companies, consulting organizations, and startups. With this background, Nils was a perfect fit to work with EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator client Morton Gestalt, who is developing a smart platform that compares the energy models of building designs to real-world usage data.
Nils enjoys working with startup companies, asking questions, and bringing new perspectives to help them think through how to grow their business. “Try mentoring! It’s a rewarding experience to support these founders and help them succeed,” Nils said.
We appreciate all the hard work Nils and all our mentors do. If you are interested in becoming a mentor visit the mentor page.
Our first #FrontandEPIcenter🌟features mentor Gautam Shringarpure! Gautam manages the Corporate Finance Analytics and Debt Management teams for CPS Energy. His expertise is invaluable to startups navigating early financial decisions. “The EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator is a great way to match my skill set with startups on the cutting edge. It’s exciting to be part of the process,” Gautam said.
Gautam enjoys the collaborative nature of the incubator, not just with the startups but also between mentors. Startup client Morton Gestalt said, "Gautam asks great questions. With his mentoring we’ve been able to identify the financial metrics that track our health."
To potential mentors Gautam says, “Absolutely go for it! This is fun! You can impact the future of energy, help young businesses, and help create jobs.” Thank you to Gautam for volunteering his time and talent! Mentors like you are the backbone of our program.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor visit the mentor page for more information.